Priceless gifts are amazing and appreciated, even better when given to unexpected recipients. That's what happened last night when my sister Kimberly gave her three sons and two nephews (one being my son Ryan) gifts that could never be bought.
Anyone who knew our father, John (Johnny) Nolan, also knew he was a sports nut specializing in bowling 🎳 and baseball ⚾️. He played hardball baseball until age 55 (pitcher and bringing the heat as long as he could keep striking out batters!). But his true love was bowling.
Like anything, especially sports, he practiced and practiced, rolling multiple 300 games (a perfect score) to only him and the wooden soldier pins in his alley, aka lane, and across the highly polished and gleaming 1" hardwood flooring. It's called shadow bowling. Ptak's (in Cleveland, Ohio) was the bar, leagues, and alleys where all the work was done.
Tournament play at my Dad's home alleys was taken seriously. Traveling to Chicago for the Peterson Classic every year was just as serious, and it was the best and hardest bowling event since its inaugural tournament dating back to 1921!
According to Bullysports, Every year since 1921 (and for some of the early years multiple times), The Petersen Classicis held. It typically runs from late April through Labor Day weekend. It is without question the toughest tournament in bowling.
Professionals and amateurs alike bowl this prestigious tourney each year. Pros and amateurs both have won this event as well.
My Dad and his teammates would have a good showing in the many years they bowled there together. For the bowlers reading this post, my dad carried a 220-225 average...for years! Heck, he changed his ethnic last name because he wanted to turn pro (another story!). According to family lore, my Dad was on target to roll a 300 game at the Pete, as it is affectionately called, on the world's biggest hardwood stage. Word got around the alleys, and before my dad rolled the last three "strikes," hundreds were standing around to watch. On his thirteenth roll, all thinking they are witnessing a perfect game, one standing pin soldier never budged with the other nine spraying like Fourth of July fireworks. Cool under the pressure, my Dad took it all in stride with his 299 effort. As he headed back to his teammates in their settee area, the tournament manager retrieved the stubborn pin and handed it to my Dad.
Photos of all participants are all a part of the bowling fees. Shy on other things, my Dad and his teammates were not shy of gearing up with their favorite bowling balls and shoes and posing for the obligatory photo op. I think my Dad was quite pleased and proud because it sure looks like it from the big smiles with many of the 5x7 photos in our possession today.
While coming across our Dad's bowling pictures and several pairs of cuff links, Kimberly had a lightbulb moment for a priceless Christmas gift. She made additional copies of the photos, framed them, and then carefully selected a pair of cuff links that best matched the five (now grateful) recipients (sons/nephews).
But the cherry on top of this most thoughtful present was a note she wrote to each young man. Each note was personalized, but the essence was something like this: "Grandpa would be so proud of you. Your nice personality and strength are two traits your grandpa also shared."
Merry Christmas 🎄,